Archive for May, 2011

May 27, 2011

Senate Rejects Toomey Budget Proposal

The Senate voted down S. Con. Res. 21, a budget proposal authored by Senator Pat Toomey (PA) by a vote of 55-42.

The plan for FY2012 recommended spending for FY2012 of $2.9 trillion with a deficit of about $1 trillion. It also proposed an increase in spending by the year 2021 of $3.4 trillion, with expected revenues to rise to $3.85 trillion by that year for a total accumulated Federal debt of $13.5 trillion over the same period, just $2 trillion more than what it is presently.

Three Republicans joined all Democrats in opposition to the bill: Scott Brown (MA), Susan Collins (ME), and Olympia Snowe (ME).

May 27, 2011

House and Senate Extend Patriot Act

In a complex legislative maneuver, both the House and the Senate passed a measure to extend the Patriot Act which was due to expire May 27, 2011.

S. 990 was appended to H.R. 366 and S. 1082 which were originally extensions of the Small Business Act. The original bill had passed in the House on January 20, 2011, which extended the program to provide government loans and tax credits to small businesses from May 31, 2011 to June 1, 2015, and was referred to the Senate for ratification.

The Senate then added an amendment to S. 1082 to extend the Patriot Act and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act from their sunset dates of May 27, 2011 to June 1, 2015 and renamed it S. 990.

The Senate passed the amended bill by a vote of 72-23 with Republicans Heller (NV), Lee (UT), Murkowski (AK), and Paul (KY) joining the minority Democrats in opposition. The House then concurred on the amendment by a vote of 250-153, with 31 Republicans voting against it, and 54 Democrats voting for it.

The final bill now proceeds to the President for his signature.

May 27, 2011

House Passes Defense Budget for 2012

By a vote of 322-96, the House passed H.R. 1540,  the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 with a budget of $690 billion, $15 billion less than that appropriated for 2011.

Significant amendments are as follows:

Amendment 27 to preclude an executive agency from requiring an entity submitting an offer for a Federal contract to disclose political contributions as a condition of participation. Amendment 38 to require that the rules of engagement allow any military service personnel to proactively defend themselves from hostile actions. Amendment 39 indicating that the deployment of National Guard personnel along the southwestern border should continue through the end of fiscal year 2011. Amendment 40 to repeal the establishment of the National Drug Intelligence Center. Amendment 43 to require all foreign terrorists be considered enemy combatants to be tried by military tribunals, not in the civilian court system. Amendment 61 barring the presence of Members of the Armed Forces or private security contractors on the ground in Libya. Amendment 152 to repeal the establishment of the United States Institute of Peace.

Ninety-five Democrats voted with 227 Republicans for the measure, and six Republicans (Amash (MI-3), Campbell (CA-48), Chaffetz (UT-3), Duncan (TN-2), McClintock (CA-4), and Paul (TX-14)) joined with ninety Democrats against the bill.

May 27, 2011

Senate Unanimously Rejects Obama Budget Proposal for 2012

The Senate unanimously voted (97-0) against consideration of S. Con. Res. 18, setting forth the President’s budget request for the United States Government for fiscal year 2012, and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2013 through 2021.

The measure was introduced by Republican Senator Jeff Sessions (AL) as a test of the support for the President’s proposal which recommends the spending of $3.125 trillion in FY2012; with anticipated revenues of $1.877 trillion, this suggests a budget deficit of $1.248 trillion for FY2012. It also projects an average annual budget deficit of $1 trillion for the next ten years with the total Federal debt reaching $20.8 trillion by 2021.

May 27, 2011

Senate Rejects Ryan Budget Plan

The Senate voted 57-40 against consideration of H. Con. Res. 34, establishing the budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2012 and setting forth appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2013 through 2021, popularly known as the Ryan Budget Plan. The House had previously passed the measure in April by a vote of 235-193.

All Republicans voted for consideration except for Scott Brown (MA), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rand Paul (KY), and Olympia Snowe (ME).

May 27, 2011

House Rescinds Unobligated Funds for Health Care Education

By a vote of 234-185, the House passed H.R. 1216 to amend the Public Health Service Act to convert funding for graduate medical education in qualified teaching health centers from direct appropriations to an authorization of appropriations.

This measure rescinds a portion of the Obamacare bill that authorizes the expenditure of $230 million over the 2011-2015 period, and places it on a pay as you go procedure. The CBO estimates that the Dept. of Health and Human Services will only spend $140 million over the 2012-2015 period, not counting the $40 million already obligated. While the measure does not reduce the total amount anticipated to be spent over the next ten years, it removes future expenditures from the FY2011 budget.

Three Democrats, Boren (OK-2), McIntyre (NC-7), and Rangel NY-15) voted with the Republican majority, and four Republicans Barletta (PA-11), Hanna (NY-24), King (IA-5), Meehan (PA-7) voted with the Democrats in opposition to the measure.

May 27, 2011

Senate Rejects Federal Court Judge Nomination

The Senate voted 52-43 to invoke cloture on the nomination of Goodwin Liu, of California, to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit Court. The cloture device requires a 3/5 majority to proceed.

All Democrats present voted for the cloture except for Ben Nelson (NE); all Republicans present voted against the cloture except for Lisa Murkowski (AK) who voted for the nomination, and Orrin Hatch (UT) who voted (present).

May 13, 2011

House Bill Mandates Vigorous Off-Shore Drilling Lease Policy

H.R. 1231, the Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act, mandates five year leasing programs which open up continental shelf areas that contain large amounts of oil and gas previously unavailable to producers. Areas to be included in the plan are those that contain at least 2.5 billion barrels of oil or 7.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The long-term goal is for domestic production of 3 million barrels of oil per day and 10 billion cubic feet of gas per day from these previously unused sources. This oil production will account for an additional 57% of our current production, and an additional 16% of our consumption, reducing our dependence on foreign oil from 72% to 56%.

The bill passed by a vote of 243-179, with nine Republicans voting against it, and 22 Democrats voting for it. The Republicans who opposed the measure are: Buchanan (FL-13), Freylinghuysen (NJ-11), Jones (NC-3), Lance (NJ-7), LoBiondo (NJ-2), Mack (FL-14), Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), Runyan (NJ-3), and Smith (NJ-4).

May 13, 2011

House Bill Lifts Gulf of Mexico Drilling Moratorium

H.R. 1229, the Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act, effectively lifts the moratorium on oil production in the Gulf of Mexico by allowing oil companies to submit lease and drilling applications to the Department of the Interior and mandating expeditious certification of permits by the Department in previously submitted applications.

The bill passed by a vote of 263-163, with all Republicans joined by Democrats in support of the measure.

May 13, 2011

H.R. 1230 Allows for Offshore Drilling Leases

H.R. 1230, the Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, passed by a vote of 266-149, with two Republicans (Jones (NC-3) and Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18)) voting against it, and 33 Democrats voting for it.

The bill provides for the auction of oil and gas well leases in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico and the Outer Continental Shelf off Virginia within a year at the most.

The measure proceeds to the Senate where it is expected to be ratified, as it is contained in the President’s budget proposal.

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